For the editor:
I am writing with reference to the February 3, 2022 article titled, “Screaming in an empty hallway.” Contrary to the misrepresentation in the article, during my tenure at the University of South Florida (USF), we have demonstrated a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
For example, my administration has taken specific actions to achieve the following milestones:
- The incoming class for Fall 2021 showed a 16% increase in Black students, 3% in Hispanic students, 14% in Asian students, and 17% more students who identify as two or more races ( first time among undergraduate students). These gains were made while maintaining nearly 40% of students eligible for the Pell Grant.
- Obtained a $60,000 grant from the Helios Foundation to strengthen recruitment of black undergraduate students.
- Met regularly with the Black Employee Steering Committee (BESC), the Black Leadership Network, the Tampa Organization for Black Affairs, the Mayor’s Hispanic Council and the Latin Community Advisory Council. I have also actively supported the Asian American and Pacific Islander Association by advising them and participating in their events.
- Elevated the role of Vice President for Institutional Equity to a member of the USF Board of Directors.
- Creation of the new position of Senior Advisor to the President and Vice-Rector, Diversity and Inclusion.
- Named Acting Vice President for Institutional Equity, which later led to national, regional, and local awards for USF such as Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, Not Alone Diversity Award , Equity, and Inclusion and the Hispanic Heritage Orgullo Award.
- Support for the creation of Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (DARE) Dashboards to set and track diversity goals for student, faculty, and staff data.
- Revamped administrative processes to improve the efficiency of investigating gender-based violence on our campuses and supporting victims of gender-based violence.
- $500,000 allocated to create the USF Anti-Racism Research Initiative.
Reflecting the impacts of our actions, in a letter dated July 27, 2021, BESC members expressly acknowledged my “ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism. . .” The BESC letter went on to state:
“Your deep belief in fairness and social justice, grounded in the principles of community, has led USF to extraordinary accomplishments in a relatively short period of time. You have used your courageous leadership by collaborating with campus partners and especially the BESC.These partnerships have laid the foundation for a future journey in which diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism will be paramount to USF’s future aspirations and success. Thus, we appreciate your authentic, ethical, and transformational leadership.You have made USF a better place through your exceptional leadership and dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
During my presidency, we took concrete steps that reflected my lifelong commitment to welcoming people from all walks of life.
–Steven C. Currall
Professor and former president
University of South Florida